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A cross-cultural thread


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Being bilingual, or trying to get your kids there, surely many of you come across cross-cultural issues, too. I'd love to hear about some of them.:drool:

 

I'll start:

 

Not being an Anglo-Saxon I have slightly lower standards, when it comes to swearing, than my British dh has. Some words are just a lot more acceptable in Germany, than in the UK or US. Most of the time he bears it with great fortitude, but the other day I could tell, that it's still getting to him. We were having dinner and a German (Christian!) CD was running in the back ground. All the sudden he stopped and asked:"Was he just swearing in the middle of that song?!" :lol:

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How funny! You're not alone. Dh has a tendency to say "your woman" in English which uhhh doesn't sit well with Americans. In Portuguese this isn't an insult at all.

 

In Brazil, single women are never to say "yes" to dates, invitations... the first time they are asked. Matter-of-fact with any offer of food, gifts... always say "no" at least 3 times. If you really mean "no" add excuses.

Only women with bad reputations say "yes" the first time and ofcourse American women have gotten many a bad reputation. While I lived in Brazil, some friend of my male cousins asked me to go to dinner and I said the usual American "Sounds great!" My cousins nearly hung me by my toenails. The feelings were mutual as one of those cousins lived with our family in the US for a year and kept running red lights bc in Brazil red lights at 3am are "just suggestions". I learned the golden rule of being a "good girl" and survived to marry a Brazilian pastor.

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I'm facing this myself quite a bit lately...

Assuming a group of friends all talking at a picnic table. You arrive late, and you want to insert yourself in that group.

Well, my upbringing says to sit just slightly apart, and wait for them to finish their current conversations, and acknowledge you.

Except for them, it's "barge in and say hello, and interrupt whatever the conversation is all about".

This results in them never acknowledging me, me feeling ignored, and them seeing me as an eavesdropper...

 

And the opposite is also a problem. If someone comes in and barges in when I'm talking, I feel slighted even though I know it's the way they act.

 

I live this situation on a daily basis at the summer pool. I find it tough...

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The first time I watched a German mom strip her kid out of a bathing suit and get them dressed in the middle of a play area with all kinds of people looking on really got me. The kid was probably 5-6, so not just a toddler.

 

I saw this once at a beach in Hawaii too. There were a couple German families at the not touristy beach we were at and we'd been enjoying chatting. When one family was ready to go, the mom walked over to the table with their stuff and changed from her swimsuit top into a bra and shirt.

 

We also used to be amused by the warnings that came before movies shown on German television. There would be a strong warning that the following show as not appropriate for all audiences and then the show would be something like Die Hard or The Transporter. But there were rarely warnings for movies that were R rated for s*xual content. It just struck us that the two cultures had totally different standards for what required a warning notice.

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We also used to be amused by the warnings that came before movies shown on German television. There would be a strong warning that the following show as not appropriate for all audiences and then the show would be something like Die Hard or The Transporter. But there were rarely warnings for movies that were R rated for s*xual content. It just struck us that the two cultures had totally different standards for what required a warning notice.

 

Oh that gets me too! As French Canadians, we're halfway between the two worlds. More Latin-blooded than most North Americans, but not quite as open as true Europeans. We wouldn't undress like that German lady for example, but to see a sex scene on the big screen? That's nothing!

 

I've always been amazed that North Americans can watch a rape scene with more ease than a love-making scene (big sweeping generalisation here...)

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We are true Europeans and are very open. We have a problem with the North American attitude when it comes to nudity, s*x, etc. because it's just so normal to us. It's normal to be naked in a Spa (women and men together), to see kids take off their swim trunks, women sunbathing topless, etc - it's just different. Ds when he was about 5 took off his swim trunks at a public pool here in the States to change into dry ones!!!! Boy, everyone almost got a heart attack, and he didn't understand why Mom was yelling at him to put on this trunks! :)

 

Sonja

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My dd has had issues with her whole class changing for gym in the classroom. She told me that she asked the teacher to change in the teacher's closet instead.

 

Also, in Lithuania, when dc were in preschool, dh had issues with the boys wearing tights under their clothes. "Brazilian boys don't wear tights." So, ds wore his pj bottoms instead. Funny though, dh had no problem adapting to the whole European man-purse thing. Go figure.

 

In Lithuania, we were shocked by this one: even when -0C, moms would leave their babies in strollers outside of stores and cafes while they went in to shop or cafe to meet with friends. We'd be arrested in the US for this and in Brazil, the baby would be gone .

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We get cross cultural stuff and dh and I are from neighbouring countries. But the thing that made me laugh and laugh was when I found out that he thinks that the Americans won the war of 1812. Canadians think their side one. The actual fact is that it was more of a draw, but I met another Canadian woman who has had many a debate with her American husband over this.

 

I've seen more east-west differences. Where I grew up in BC changing a 5 or 6 yo at the beach is no big deal, but around here it is absolutely not acceptable. not sure about in eastern Canada, but in this part of the States it's a huge no-no.

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Also, in Lithuania, when dc were in preschool, dh had issues with the boys wearing tights under their clothes. "Brazilian boys don't wear tights." So, ds wore his pj bottoms instead. Funny though, dh had no problem adapting to the whole European man-purse thing. Go figure.

 

.

 

 

"British boys do not wear tights either, it doesn't matter that they have trains and footballs on them!" German ones do though, and in the end it got so cold here (that would be Central Asia), that he agreed to have ds wear some :tongue_smilie:. I have to say though that the longer I'm away from Germany, the less clothes I tend to force my children to wear and they have not been sick any more.

The British also put very few clothes on their babies (something to do with cod-death risk), so when my partents came to see our first dd, age 2 weeks, my mum kept rolling her skirt over her, trying to get the poor baby warm! :lol:

That would bring us back to Europeans taking their clothes off in front of other people,...

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American boys aren't too happy about them either LOL. And American men's long underware resembles tights... I, too, resorted to having my boys wear their pajamas under their clothes. Although my children mostly objected to the tightness, not the idea, and my husband objected to the statickiness (static electricity) of the knit synthetic. Their loose cotton pajamas are much more comfortable. The older ones will were proper long underwear skiing now, but I think that is because they've seen their friends do it enough not to mind too much. The youngest still insists on his pajamas. And similarly - I once made the mistake of calling the boys' gymnastics "unitards and leggings" "leotards and tights". The coach bopped me and told me never to call them that again, that he had enough trouble getting the boys into them (they aren't comfortable) without them thinking of them as girls' clothing.

 

Whether one wears shoes in the house or not seems to be cultural. My son was used to taking his off, because we don't. (I lived with a Swiss family for a few weeks in college and thought it made so much sense that I organized my own household that way.) But when he went to Japan, he had to learn to put shoes on when he went outside. We go barefoot if the weather is warm unless we are going someplace in the car. The Japanese don't - your feet would be dirty when you came into the house again. He had a really hard time remembering this.

 

-Nan

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Here in New England, you can change toddlers on the beach, but older than that you get funny looks. We're getting more used to it, though, because in the last ten years or so, the Quebequoise have begun using our beaches. My father-in-law was upset about that because the little ones that weren't yet toilet trained were wearing no bathingsuit. I was glad he didn't live with us. We didn't bother with bathingsuits until AFTER ours were trained. It was private where we swam, though. On public beaches, I kept a diaper on them.

 

Bathrooms have changed since I was a child. Now, most mothers bring boys under 10 into the lady's room with them. When I was little, mothers only brought in babies and toddlers. Now there are more unisex ones, too.

 

-Nan

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Dh and I grew up in different regions of the U.S., and I'm often surprised by the little things that we view differently. Where I grew up, a guest is expected to offer to help the hostess with meal prep and/or clean-up. When I first visited dh's parents I would offer, and his mother would get rather cold and refuse my help. Evidently where he grew up an offer to help is slightly insulting and implies that you don't think the hostess has her act together. However, in that area women kiss each other (on the cheek) as greeting and farewell, even if they've never met before, and even if they don't like each other--something I'm not very comfortable with since in my culture kisses indicate a certain level of intimacy and are usually reserved for family or a significant other. It was especially awkward during those first years of marriage when I knew mil did not approve of me AT ALL (religious differences) and she'd greet me with a kiss, be cold and uber-polite to me during the entire visit, and then kiss me goodbye. And then there's "sir" and "ma'am". Dh got smacked when he was growing up if he addressed an adult without using sir or ma'am. Where I grew up kids only used those words in two occasions--very, very formal, like meeting the governor, or when a child was being pert and trying to imply that the person they were addressing was behaving in an overly authoritative and condescending manner. I would have been in trouble for being a smart-alek if I'd used sir and ma'am regularly. Dh's parents are bothered that my children don't use that form of address, but frankly we don't see them often (and only when WE make the effort) and I have to live with my kids every day and it would REALLY bug me for my sweet little ones to be formal with me instead of relaxed and comfortable, or to sound all the time as if they're being impudent. So we do it MY way in our family...lol. My inlaws have softened over the years as they've come to understand that I'm really not a mannerless cretin, people just have different manners where I come from. And after my mil, it was less of a shock when my little brother's latina girlfriend wanted to kiss me the first time we met too....lol. She's his wife now, and they are blending cultures at their house too. We all just go with the flow and refuse to get offended by those startling little things we never thought about until we met someone who did it differently.

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Dh and I grew up in different regions of the U.S., and I'm often surprised by the little things that we view differently. Where I grew up, a guest is expected to offer to help the hostess with meal prep and/or clean-up. When I first visited dh's parents I would offer, and his mother would get rather cold and refuse my help. .

 

 

So true! I've lived in 4 states & 3 provinces. It was an easier transition to go from BC to CA in many ways than from BC to ON or New England.

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Ha ha. Tights are perfectly ok here, as long as they are worn with medieval tunics!

 

Our major cultural difference here is a difference between deaf and hearing culture since our household is sort of hard of hearing culture. I was at work one day back when I worked in retail and a woman I'd never met (hearing too) came up behind me and slapped on the bench to get my attention. I turned around, not in the least preturbed, while the chickie on the next register whispered "That's so rude!" as she cringed to the point of nearly shrivelling up.

 

:)

Rosie

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to even get used to greeting people properly here....

 

The first person that made a formal effort to educate me was a guard who had to check ID....I was fumbling to find it...and he said "say "Bonjour Monsieur" (in French)...then I started realizing that any time you call or even ask a clerk in the food store where to find something, you should have this listening and greeting type of presence...you wait for the person to look at you, you greet them formally, then you ask where to find the cereal for example...Now I find foreign strangers so presumptuous (isn't it funny how I've adapted) when they call me for homeschool information and just jump into a long conversation without any greeting or any presence of mind to see if I'm in the middle of something urgent....But these greetings give a certain respect to these people who would easily be students in the foodstore in the US...Here they are adults who are spending their whole life as guards, or clerks, etc.

 

Another anecdote is from a Tanzanian guest we had (who built his home brick by brick - made each brick too)...The tribal differences are so important there....His son was marrying a woman from another tribe. One of the wife's tribal customs that was different was something like the daughter was supposed to take care of her parents. So you can imagine how this affects the life of the newlyweds...But I thought in a way, it was good that it was clear cut. People then knew what they were getting into....rather than marrying someone who is also "American" and finding out that all his families habits are different than one's own....At the same time, for them it makes intertribal marriage much more uncommon as there are many other expectations as well....And the tribal problems are enormous in Africa.....

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Or in your husband's family, you are supposed to back your spouse up in public even if you think he is wrong. That one could lead to some very hurt feelings if you didn't know about it. Or in some cultures, mothers don't make the decisions about young children, the way they tend to here.

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Interesting. I'm guessing a stamped foot behind your back wouldn't bother you, either?

 

Nup. When we were in Auslan class, if we wanted to ask a question and the teacher wasn't looking, we'd thump on the floor. If they still didn't look up, the whole class would stamp until the teacher looked up. A trick like that'd get you thrown out of a hearing classroom!

 

:)

Rosie

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yep, this little issue nearly turned me into a basket case at the tender age of 12 when we moved from France to Australia. In France, we kissed each other, male, female, relatives, friends, on both cheeks every time we said hello, even if we had seen each other 2 hours ago.

Then we moved to Australia, where personal space is at a premium. I'm still not sure what my new friends thought of me, lunging at them every time I saw them. It took me a good 6 months to lose that impulse (but I still miss it).

 

And then there was the whole "do I bring something if I'm invited to a meal". In our extended family (French & Russian), it's almost considered an insult if you're invited to eat at someone's house and you bring anything to eat or drink. You're invited because the host wants to be hospitable and share their food with you. Here, as we discovered, it's expected that you at least offer to bring drinks or dessert or something. I still haven't got the hang of this one...

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Or how about how late one shows up to any invited event. My Irish neighbors said they were unpleasantly surprised over and over by either having people show up at the time invited, long before they were ready for them, or by arriving and discovering that their hosts were less than pleased that they were an hour "late".

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Then we moved to Australia, where personal space is at a premium. I'm still not sure what my new friends thought of me, lunging at them every time I saw them. It took me a good 6 months to lose that impulse (but I still miss it).

 

...

 

I try and deal with this personal space issue all the time. My children don't have a concept of it, cause it's a non-entity in Tajik society. On the one side I tell myself they need to learn, so that they won't offend when in Europe, but to be honest, I NEED personal space so desperatly myself, that that's the true reason for trying to teach them. I just feel so super-stupid telling my own kids to get off me (sometimes, obviously not all the time) :001_huh:

 

Does the Russian part of your family kiss staight on the mouth? My mum is still trying to recover from a Russian friend having done that. :lol:

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These kinds of things happen in subcultures here. After doing a year of intense theatre activity in CA, I moved back to Canada. My sister and I were on the ferry and ran into a sports friend of hers. We were laughing about something, and I touched her leg. No big deal in my theatre world because we were very touchy-feely. However, the look on her face startled me. At "home," we didn't touch each other like that.

 

You know that expression, when in Rome, do as the Romans do? I do this unconsciously with body language. When I was in England a friend told me that you'd never know I was from NA until I opened my mouth because I was walking & moving like a European. I'm not sure how much of that has to do with having lived in Europe for a year when I was little and how much of it is just me.

 

Whenever I meet someone from Japan (not merely heritage, but born and raised there), which isn't very often around here, I try to wait before replying. Here we like to answer ASAP, but in Japan you're expected to think over what someone has said before you answer.

 

And how about left handedness? I worked with a Nigerian woman who told me it took her years to get used to people giving her things with their left hand, which is a huge insult in Nigeria. I still remember a Nigerian couple my parents had become friends with teaching their dd to eat with her right hand so that she wouldn't be ostracized when they moved back. The sad thing is that no one has ever heard from them since they moved back, and my parents are sure it has to do with tribal rivalries (someone already mentioned tribal issues in Africa on this thread.) A Cantonese friend of mine originally from Hong Kong told me that if you eat with your left hand there, people just laugh a lot, so the amount of trouble that can cause varies with the country and culture.

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A friend did a teacher exchange with Hungary and was very surprised to have no lefthanders at all in her high math class. She said that in the US, a typical highest-level math class is half leftie. She asked someone about it and they said that they all had to be right-handed in school.

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I was New England. My office mate moved to the US from Austraila when he was 10 and still considered himself Australian although he had a New England accent ("efforts at face preservation in 5th grade," he said). We were in a group with a girl from Lebanon and a Jewish American girl. We all noticed and talked about the cultural differences. None of us had realized how close the Lebanese and Jewish cultures are. And we found, to our surprise, that my New England culture was much closer to the Australian one than the New England Jewish one, especially when it came to jokes and body language. The Australian and I understood when the other one was trying to be funny and the other two didn't get it at all. We were very frank with each other, too, which the other two couldn't understand between a boy and a girl. And their notions of personal space were radically different than ours. We couldn't understand why some things upset them, and we were bad at saying the right thing to comfort them, but they understood and could comfort each other fine. They could understand some of each others' languages (Arabic and Hebrew). It was all so obvious and not what we would have guessed (that the Jewish American girl and the New England one (me) would have been closest) that we wound up talking about it a lot.

-Nan

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I've always been amazed that North Americans can watch a rape scene with more ease than a love-making scene (big sweeping generalisation here...)

 

It certainly is since I prefer to watch neither as do most people I know. ( Conservative Christian community of friends!)

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Here's one that will be hard to top. I know a woman who was a missionary with YWAM. She went to Hong Kong to teach a class and met a man from Samoa who had been a tribal child that come to know the Lord through missionary work. He grew up to enter the mission field and was in training at the Hong Kong School. They eventually married.

 

In HIS tribal culture, the first born child of a couple is given back to the grandparents to raise!!! :001_huh:

 

Of course, they didn't give thier child to the in-laws. They now live in the US and are both pastors. But talk about cultural differences!

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There's this great book by K. Bailey, called Through Peasant Eyes. The author grew up in Lebanon and studied the parables in Luke through the eyes of Lebanese villagers, who's culture is still very much like that of the time and place where/when Jesus taught. The amount of eye openers in there is mind blowing!

 

 

Wow, I'll have to look this up. I've read work by a late Indian bishop on this. He was a high caste Hindu who converted to Christianity when he read a portion of the Bible he found (Romans). He wrote some fascinating things about the parables in the gospels and about some things in the OT that were so different than what I'd read. One thing he discussed is that Rahab was not a prostitute (in Joshua) due to where she was living. She was in innkeeper (the word in Hebrew has several meanings, and whore or prostitute, was only one of them). There were zoning laws, and prostitutes had to live a certain distance from the village. Temple prostitutes existed, but that's a whole different Hebrew word. I don't own the book about Rahab (read a copy of a friend's that discussed her), but I've had others by him. I'm not sure if they're still in print.

 

We westerners have such a different culture and background on this. I'd love to compare what this Lebanese writer wrote with the other.

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Here's one that will be hard to top. I know a woman who was a missionary with YWAM. She went to Hong Kong to teach a class and met a man from Samoa who had been a tribal child.

 

In HIS tribal culture, the first born child of a couple is given back to the grandparents to raise!!! :001_huh:

 

 

There's a lot of that sort of thing in Pacific cultures. In Tonga, I think it was, it's perfectly ok to waltz in and take one of your sister's kids home. Or leave yours with your sister. An anthropology lecturer at one of the unis here did field work in the Pacific or PNG and was adopted by one of the families of the village so she could work. Otherwise she wouldn't learn anything because no one would know how to relate to her. Anyway, one day her adopted sister turned up and left her two daughters with this Aussie. It certainly put a twist on her research because she was their mother until she came back to Australia. Even now she is still living up to that responsibility by sending money for their schooling and whatnot.

That's scary stuff!

 

:)

Rosie

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There's a lot of that sort of thing in Pacific cultures. In Tonga, I think it was, it's perfectly ok to waltz in and take one of your sister's kids home.

:)

Rosie

 

 

Wow! But these posts about kids reminds me of the time we visited a Hutterite colony. One woman with a number of children gave her childless sister one of her babies to raise as her own. I didn't think of it at the time, but I'm guessing it has to do with a verse in Timothy. At least in this case it was for a willing sister and the birthmother could see her child growing up.

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And then there was the whole "do I bring something if I'm invited to a meal". In our extended family (French & Russian), it's almost considered an insult if you're invited to eat at someone's house and you bring anything to eat or drink. You're invited because the host wants to be hospitable and share their food with you. Here, as we discovered, it's expected that you at least offer to bring drinks or dessert or something. I still haven't got the hang of this one...

 

Or how about how late one shows up to any invited event. My Irish neighbors said they were unpleasantly surprised over and over by either having people show up at the time invited, long before they were ready for them, or by arriving and discovering that their hosts were less than pleased that they were an hour "late".

 

YES!

 

And then the whole question/answer thing. In dh's family culture the first response is rarely accepted as the answer to a question. They always ask if you're SURE three or four times before they'll accept the answer. And they expect me to press them in a similar way. But my default mode is to expect that the person answering the question has heard the question, thought about their response, and then said what they meant the first time. So if you ask me and I give you an answer, you don't need to ask me again; if I'm not SURE I'll say so the first time. Honest. And if I ask you something I subconsciously expect that whatever your first answer is, is what you mean. Why would you say it if you didn't mean it? So it's something I have to work at consciously when I'm with his family. And also not to be impatient when on the third or fourth "are you sure?" their answer changes. Sigh. The funny thing is, I think what bothers me most about it is that it's inefficient--and also that it allows too much opportunity for misunderstanding and offense. But obviously, I'm biased.

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OMG I could give you a long list. Living in Mexico has been a real culture shock. The children (not mine) watch soap operas and are out at all hours of the night, and I mean 8 yo's at 11PM. Granted, we live in a gated community with security but come on. My husband laughed at me the first time I saw a childrens Sat morning show and the host came out half naked...boobies all over the place (big ones) and her jumping up and down in a mini skirt. At the same time though some of these parents wouldn't take those same children to see The Incredibles because it was to violent.:confused:

 

Now, I know I have been living here to long when we go to the US and I use the phrase "your woman" LOL.

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Does the Russian part of your family kiss staight on the mouth? My mum is still trying to recover from a Russian friend having done that.

 

:lol: Oh, yes, and not only that, but the men kiss each other on the mouth, too.

I think most Eastern Europeans are (or at least were) like that. Fortunately my Dad was a bit of a "germophobe" and flatly refused any kind of mouth kissing :D

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That was one of the New England-Australian/Jewish-Lebonese splits, too, and almost as obvious as the personal space one. The other two girls thought my office mate and I were being very rude to each other because we didn't are-you-sure. They were surprised when I said I didn't mind. We were often so brief that the other two couldn't even figure out how I knew that it would be ok with the Australian if we tampered with something he'd been working on. And we thougth they talked an exhausting amount : ). -Nan

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When we lived in Berlin, we were part of a big international group of military officers and their wives. It was a standing joke when it was time for someone to join a group at a reception or a party. The newcomer would go all around the group saying hi to everyone, usually with kisses. Most people would go for both cheeks, but the Dutch would always do three (except for the time they decided to only do two because everyone else only did two, but everyone else had gotten used to doing three with them and there was still a snarl up).

After all that hugging and kissing, when we got back to the US, I found that I had a horrible feeling of lack of lack of contact.

 

And you could tell how long an American had been in Europe by their reaction to being served water with bubbles (especially if they didn't notice it before drinking a big swig). I loved how one of our friends called it Wasser mit Leben drin (water with some life to it).

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When we lived in Berlin, we were part of a big international group of military officers and their wives. It was a standing joke when it was time for someone to join a group at a reception or a party. The newcomer would go all around the group saying hi to everyone, usually with kisses. Most people would go for both cheeks, but the Dutch would always do three (except for the time they decided to only do two because everyone else only did two, but everyone else had gotten used to doing three with them and there was still a snarl up).

After all that hugging and kissing, when we got back to the US, I found that I had a horrible feeling of lack of lack of contact.

 

And you could tell how long an American had been in Europe by their reaction to being served water with bubbles (especially if they didn't notice it before drinking a big swig). I loved how one of our friends called it Wasser mit Leben drin (water with some life to it).

 

Nobody kisses like a Polish officer-Hand plus three!

 

I'm often amazed at how Europeans (and others) will kiss greetings but often once you have become good friends you hug instead.

 

The American in me still seems a bit surprised by this seeming turn around.

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One of our Poles had some little saying like, "One for your president, one for my president and one for me."

 

There are also the various ways that a culture treats names. In Germany, it was often customary to stay on last name terms with people you'd know for a long time. But then, we used first names with people in church and adults associated with the kids' taekwondo club (in fact, with them, I often didn't really know a last name at all and was quite amused by the number of von this and von that in church once we did learn the whole name).

 

But in America, it is the first name that is frequently out there for public consumption, especially with wait staff and help in stores. I think the idea there is that the first names are a bit anonymous while last names allow someone to track them down.

 

And of course in America you can also get the combo (especially in the south) of formal respect with first names like Miss Margaret and Mr Tim for people like scout leaders or coaches who use first names but have parents who want to maintain a distancing formality.

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But in America, it is the first name that is frequently out there for public consumption, especially with wait staff and help in stores. I think the idea there is that the first names are a bit anonymous while last names allow someone to track them down.

 

.

 

 

Then there's Iceland, where there are no official surnames. The phone book is done by your given name. You're called Name dad'snamesdaughter or Name dad'smameson, unless you have some nickname. So in order to use the phone book, you have to know someone's father's name as well as their name.

 

So, for a made up example:

 

Stefania marries Snorri and they have a girl and then a boy

 

Alda Snorrisdottir

Leif Snorrisson (and Leif rhymes with waif, it's NOT a homophone with leaf.)

 

Kin is big, there, too. Second, third, fourth cousins. That may be changing, but my great grandparents are the ones who came to Canada, but my mother had Icelandic relatives come and visit and vice versa, who were 2nd cousins once removed or third cousins or some such thing. At least no one takes your dc or leaves theirs ;). However, in history fostering children was not uncommon. In fact, Snorri Sturluson (one of the 2 greatest historians of the middle ages) was fostered starting at age 3 by one of the top scholars of the country who had a school (that's a rather colourful story.) Oops, I've digresssed into history, here.

Edited by Karin
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And of course in America you can also get the combo (especially in the south) of formal respect with first names like Miss Margaret and Mr Tim for people like scout leaders or coaches who use first names but have parents who want to maintain a distancing formality.

 

So it's a Southern thing? We meet up with some Americans from time to time and they have their kids call us Mr Chris and Mrs Friederike, which sounds rather weird to our ears. I guess we should have children call them something more formal, but it just sounds so funny :lol:.

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At least dh (British) and I (German) both grew up with the same world war dates (they started earlier than the (ex-)Soviets and Americans are writing down in their history books ;)), but that's pretty much it. He learned lots about battles (not so unreasonable, considering they were wars :)), we did Stalingrad and that was pretty much it. Our focus was on how horrible Hitler was, how it could all happen, what can we learn from it,... He was surprised that I talked about "occupation forces", for him they were the 'allied forces'. When you then get an American into the mix they'll assume that they won the war, whereas dh would say the British were pretty much there, just needed a bit more help,...

Or most Australien we meet wouldn't think of their beginnings with the penal colonies, but lots of Brits can't resist asking which ancestor of their's stole a loaf of bread.:lol:

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We are true Europeans and are very open. We have a problem with the North American attitude when it comes to nudity, s*x, etc. because it's just so normal to us. It's normal to be naked in a Spa (women and men together), to see kids take off their swim trunks, women sunbathing topless, etc - it's just different. Ds when he was about 5 took off his swim trunks at a public pool here in the States to change into dry ones!!!! Boy, everyone almost got a heart attack, and he didn't understand why Mom was yelling at him to put on this trunks! :)

Sonja

 

We're German too. Same deal here. It's a big cultural difference that I'm still adjusting too. I think people in Germany see a much larger difference between general nudity and sex/pornography. Once I was at a beach here and I had my 6 month old DD in a diaper and an older lady commented that it was obscene. And my DH and I were surprised to see young boys and girls swimming in t-shirts at an indoor pool.

Last winter we went swimming a few times at the YMCA and I was struck by how shy everyone was in the female-only changing rooms. I got out of the shower naked to dry off and everyone's eyes nearly popped out of their heads. They came out of the showers fully dressed! How in the world did they do that without getting everything wet? Some even came out wearing socks and shoes. :001_huh:

 

As for general homeschooling: we've had issues about what script to teach our children. My DH and I write in the German hand but will that confuse my children since we're mostly using American materials? We're thinking about italic since it's in-between.

This is very confusing in math with 1s and 7s. Also, the books teach English measurements but we prefer metric. Yesterday we had an evaluator from EI here and she asked how much my DD weighed when she was born. "3680 grams." "Umm.... how many ounces is that?" :lol:

 

And then we have the problem with phonics. I speak English with the children but we sometimes read books in German and with my DH it's the other way around. When they ask how something is pronounced it always takes me a few minutes to figure it out.

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Bathrooms have changed since I was a child. Now, most mothers bring boys under 10 into the lady's room with them. When I was little, mothers only brought in babies and toddlers. Now there are more unisex ones, too.-Nan

 

This, and the leaving babies outside in strollers thing, is more of an issue in the States because they're afraid of the children being stolen. It hardly ever happens but they live in fear of it. My oldest is potty-independent so I don't usually go into the actual stall with him, although I'm in the bathroom. I've been told off by well-meaning women who suggested that someone would steal him off the toilet and sneak him out past me. I laughed but they were serious. :tongue_smilie:One even mentioned that he could be snuck out a window. The fact that I had a second child in a stroller was of no consideration to them. I should just take them BOTH into the stall. Okay...

 

Once a passing stranger yelled at me because I parked my car, went to get a shopping cart, and came back to put the kids in the cart. She was waiting by my car and told me off for leaving the kids alone in the car. She said that it is illegal and that the kids could die of heatstroke or be kidnapped.

 

Or do I just attract crazy old women like a magnet? Sometimes I think it's because my children look white and I don't. Maybe they think I'm a careless nanny, or something...

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So it's a Southern thing? We meet up with some Americans from time to time and they have their kids call us Mr Chris and Mrs Friederike, which sounds rather weird to our ears. I guess we should have children call them something more formal, but it just sounds so funny :lol:.

 

 

That would definitely be a Southern US thing for the most part, unless you're a daycare worker. My mother was quite shocked when an African-American friend of ours called her Miss B____, because she is so concerned about equality. I had to explain to her that in the south, that's how you address your elders to show respect. We don't do that in Canada, and we don't live in the Southern US. Of course, the Southern US is really just part of what geographically constitutes the Southern US--kind of like Ohio being part of the "midwest" when anyone can see it's in the eastern part. This has to do with history, of course. But having grown up on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, I always thought of everything east of the Rockies as east.

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Being invited to a meal here is tricky. In Germany, you show up on time and bring a bottle of wine or some flowers or sweets. Here, it seems to be different with every host. Some want wine, some despise alcohol, some want flowers, others have allergies, some expect a present, some like chocolate, others are dieting/diabetic/hate chocolate, some are insulted if you bring ANYTHING. And never show up exactly on time. We've interrupted people cleaning up or getting dressed. They were NOT pleased. We've found that 15 minutes late is best. And drink ONE glass of wine, if any. Any more than that and they'll start looking at you funny.

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She said that it is illegal and that the kids could die of heatstroke or be kidnapped.

 

Or do I just attract crazy old women like a magnet? Sometimes I think it's because my children look white and I don't. Maybe they think I'm a careless nanny, or something...

 

 

It is illegal here now, and I live in NE. I couldn't even go into the drycleaners with the van right out in front of the glass front where I could see my dc every second of the 2 or 3 minutes I was in there in cool temps (no heatstroke) due to this.

 

People often seem to have no idea that it's safer to leave your baby outside in a stroller than to drive to the grocery store/supermarket. It's cruel to never take your child anywhere ;). Of course, having grown up in NA, I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my baby outside in a stroller.For one thing, someone would be liable to call the child services department on me. But even without that, I can't shake that feeling of worry regardless of statistics.

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